Legal Aid Cell

Legal Aid Cell (Muavin) for Journalists, Media Workers and Free Speech Activists

Haqooq Aap Kay, Muavinat Hamari


Pakistan has consistently been ranked as one of the world’s most dangerous countries to practice journalism by the annual indexes of global media watchdogs like Reporters without Borders (RSF), Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and International Federation of Journalists (IFJ). Media workers in Pakistan face different work-related violence and threats including killings and murders of journalists. This is evident from the fact that, between January 2000 and January 2021, over 150 journalists and media workers have been killed in Pakistan in line of duty. Recently, nature of threat to the journalists and free speech activists has changed and the state has emerged as the single largest predator of journalists when it comes to filing legal cases against them for their journalism work. The legal system of the country is failing to provide justice to journalists in defending themselves against the impunity of this legal onslaught.

Legal Aid Cell – Muavin

In this backdrop, the Institute for Research, Advocacy and Development (IRADA) launched a dedicated Legal Aid Cell (Muavin), in coordination with Journalists Defence Committee (JDC) of Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) and Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) in 2020. Operating as a part of IRADA’s strategic objective of ‘supporting civil liberties in Pakistan,’ the Legal Aid Cell has provided legal assistance for successful defence of more than 25 journalists and free speech activists against the cases initiated by the state under the infamous PECA.

Moreover, the Legal Aid Cell has also supported in filing of several strategic litigation petitions challenging vires of various enactments and rules including: vires of the ‘Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Online Content (Procedure, Oversight and Safeguard) Rules, 2020; vires of Section 6 of the Protection of Journalists and Media Professionals Act, 2021; vires of Section 20 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016; and vires of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Ordinance, 2022. Besides, the Legal Aid has provided technical input to the Pakistan Journalists Safety Coalition (PJSC) in formulation the draft of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Protection of Journalists and Media Practitioners Act, 2021 and the Rules of Business for the implementation of the Sindh Protection of Journalists and Media Practitioners Act 2021.

Advisory Committee

The Legal Aid Cell operates under the guidance of an Advisory Committee, consisting of representatives of PBC, PFUJ, Digital Media Alliance of Pakistan (DigiMAP) and Executive Director of IRADA, to establish credibility, transparency and effectiveness in provision of the legal aid to needy journalists, media workers and free speech activists in the country.